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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  September 12, 2009 4:45pm-6:00pm EDT

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thinki of those days of the around-the-clock action going on inside the factory that started out as very much a local story. right? right here in this part of chicago. but, very quickly for an -- through an extraordinary turn of events became an international, not just a national but international story. why don't we turn the clock back a little bit and just replay some of the highlights of how that happened. how did this occupation of a small factor here a few blocks from where we are sitting tonight, go from that local little goose island to the internationalstage? >> aha. we have our -- >> here is armando. >> just arrived. >>oes he need to get micced up. >> yes, he does. >> okay. >> thank y.
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>> we need to you stand up one more time. >> okay. >> yes, to answer your question, just cliff notes version and we'll get into some of the nuances, later, but, i'm sure everyone here, i'm sure heard of the factory occupation, basically, you know, last fall was when of cour the economic crisis was horrible, and the banks were getting the bailouts and the -- on december 2nd, workers at republic windows and doors, about 250 workers, at this plant on goose island, that made windows and doors, were told by the management of the factory that it wa going to close, in three days. and that they wou also lose eir health insurance. and the workers had -- armando will probably talk more out this, but the media coverage at
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the moment kind of made it sound like it was a big surprise, and out of the blue and this horrible shock right before christmas, an that's one of the interesting things to me, right off the bat, was that was sort of the misrepresentation, really the much more interesting and kind of inspiring story is that th workers really knew for at least the number of weeks, beforehand, that something was up, i guess i'll try and keep it short for now but the owner was trying to -- was moving a lot of the equipment out of e factory, secretly by cover of night, this whole kind of intriguing thing and so he had me kind oflan which we'll get into later to close the factory down, and so the workers had been talking about, you know, what they would do when they got this news that they were expecting to get and they were fully ready to take a really bold action which was to refuse to leave the factory when they were actually told that it would close and that friday which w december 5th, they -- there was meetings during the
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day and when the end of the work day came they refused to leave and that wa the start of the occupation, that ended up lasting 6 days and turned into sort of a two part victory, this first part was that the worrs got one of their demands which wa the severance pay, and vacation pay that was due them which the company was refusing to pay, and then the ultimate goal was to keep the factory open and tried to -- lauhed efforts to start a co-op that might actually buy the factory and run it as a worker-owned operation, you know, insd by the things going on in argentina and oth cntries and while that was in process they got an offer from the california compy that makes energy efficient windows and drywall who had seen all the publicity and wanted to buy the company, and that did end up happening and now, republic windows and door what was formally republic windows and doo i open, as a company called
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seriousmaterials. and is kind of has been held up as a poster child of the stimulus act and whole green jobs phenomenon and bide en was there in the spring making a big statement, so it was kind o a whole arc endg in big success though it is an ongoing story and as we'll talk about more a little bit later, it's still too early to call the complete success but one of -- to me the interesting and exciting things is that the challenge and the struggle for the union is sll really there, to make sure that the new company lives up to its promises and that this isn't just a sort of greenwashing example of green jobs a lotf politicians get credit for and nothing comes of it but, rather is really an amazing labor struggle come to fruition. so sorry that was too long mf a -- >> actually there's -- i want to follow-up, on that, by quoting from the introduction to your book. where you sort of elain i think why the rublica windows
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and doors struggle encapsulated so many dferent issues she writes many union organizers, labor experts and citizens heralded the replic victories as potential harbingers of a revitalized and reinvigorated labor movement in the u.s. and those involved point out far from being a spontaneous act, it was the result of finally-tuned and tireless organizing a strategizing by an independent union that has forged a path separate from most organized labor. and with a workforce largely comprised of latino immigrants. the republic story thus entwin s s some of the most significant questions of the u.s. economy, the evolving situation of organized labor and increasing role of immigrants in the economy and potential impact of the bank b@ilouts, as well as a significant connection po the
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economic stimulus package passed in february of 2009. so really have two questions about that, one, for armando and one for you. of course either of you is welcome to answer whichever part you would like but i want to -- if you could address how the republ doors struggle rlly did seem to strike a chord with all of these issues simultaneously and kind of again become this national and even internatiol story, how did republic doors kind of reflect all of these forces the at work underneath the surface of the story? >> yeah, well, i mean, it came at a time obviously people were really angry at the ban and afraid of their own fortunes and also, it was kind of a moment when peoplecross different class lines who in the past might not have ever felt sympathy f empathy with blue-collar immigrant workers,
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who, you know, felt themselves iniffere sector of the economy suddenly realized how unstable the whole system was, and so i think it was just that, you know, at a perfect time as far as the struggle resonating, and the part that people are probably aware of but i didn't mention before, was the whole role of bank of america and to a leer extent jp morgan chase in this. the owner, the company owed the workeps this money, it was a total of about $2 million. but the union took the strategy of targeting bank of america which was the major investor in the company and jp morganhase which was a part oer, kind of under the theory that even though legally they really didn't necessarily owe the workers money, under the laws that pretty much let - left workers out in the cold when a company closes, the union took the tactic morally, especially having received this 25 billion which later became 45 billion in bailout, taxpayer money, had an
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ethical responsibility to make sure these workers were giv what was due them. so i think that, you know, the anger at the banks and general fearatq0v1e0s10=50atq0v1e0s10 
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countries. >> which was really kind of misleading and was kind of an exciting image, but the reality is more important and, you know, much more important for the general public to understand, which is this didn't come about spontaneosly at all, it was weeks of really brave and kind of tearless planning and strategizing. so, you know, when you talk aboutow ts resonates in the labor mutual, from here on out, i mean, not just with unions but with workplaces in general, i marc it is really important to understand that the organization was key to that and the stregy and the working together, it wasn't just all of a sudden oh, my god we will not leave the factory. so i think that is something that, you know, is maybe left out of a lot of the larger understanding which, you know, i hope moreeople will become aware of. >> yeah, that is what i want to
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ask armando about is one of the things that kari does so vividly in the book is she talks about %uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu decisions, strategic decisions that were reflected on deliberated on and finally taken after a lot of discussion, a lot of thinking, a lot of conferring amongst the workers, and your allies in the union, and why don't you walk us through some of that, armando, what it was like, one scene in particular kari describes you are in a car with mark mark minester of ue, the international and aando this is president of ue local 1110 here in chicago. which represented the republic windows and doors workers but it was in consultation with the ue international, mark minester and
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leah freed where the strategizing came about to lead to the historic action. can you talk about that. >> yes. . a pleasure to be here. first of all, early in november, the first week of november the company gave us the order to fix the machine to the mechanics, and i'm a mechanic from - and republic, mechanic republic, and when the company started to bring one welder, machine from bensonville which is our -- what is it... warehouse. from windows, they was having -- stock there, they bring it and theachine was from a long, long time, two or three years before they put in their -- they was making a huge, huge windows line, they put it there, but
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they don't make a lot of -- people don't afford that because it was too expensive window like a 20 inches by 20 inches was like $55, to $700, for each window and it was too expensive and they give us order to fix that machine, all maged,ive the order to fix the machine, we spent three weeksixing because when they put in there, damaged so many this from the machine. and td us to fix it and the company started buying pictures, the jaws, they grab t matial to make the windows to p on the welder, so they bring that and we fix that and the pictures was for the most highest product from republic and that's sounds to us we're, why the company is going to sell one machine to his
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competitor with the highest volume of our produc it wasn, no make sense to us and on the last, before thanksgivhng weekend we start seeing that weut the machine, this machine on the -- trailers and give us the order to put the machine, what it was configured to, supposed to be settled -- sold to somebody because that don't have enough money to pay us and buy raw material, so then the night of -- befor our thanksgiving, around wednesday, we see that -- a manager from -- former manager came to me and a worker and let us know to turn off all the lhts to the company. so when this happened, it s more weird to us and we spent couple hours outside of the
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company and saw they start a -- then like 10 minus, former supervisor was like five forme supervisors appeared in the company, and former forklift driver from o union, he was with the company. appeared, wasn't laid off, couple guys from the company, and they started moving stuff, with the rental truck and it was weird because the company has their own trail,and how will they rent a truck to move stuff anfind out theext day, it was office equipment. so the thing is, was me and earl the morning i bring my wife to work, s was working on -- right here by western and lake. around 6:00, 6:30, and i go to the compa with my little kid, oscar, 7 years old and we spend from 6:00, 6:30, in the parking lot, until 1:00, and then i go
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to e someing, it was too late, with breakfastnd spending time and i saw drivers fr republic and approached the gu, and they don't know me and i represent those people, and i called the, the steward from the drivers and he told me, let me talk to those guys: of the
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general working lab in front of the company. i told him to come over, i said most of the parki lot, kly what you see. he opened an attack. i told him don't worry about it, he is going to realize we are here. they start moving the charges, i told him, let m know which way they're going to take. i don't know how far. when we find t what they put on the north side and south side they put it by minutes. he told me i am out of town but i want to be there in twhours,
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waitor me. itasn't winter but it was november. i picked up my wife and came back. we were around for five hours, 7:00 to 2:00 ithe morning. retaking notes, the license plates and everything. i asked about -- they tried - she said no, they're going to acse somebody, we stole equipment. he told me what about afterwards? how do we do that?
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so he told me just stay in the plant. you have got to leave, we refused to go. and i said, great idea. we explained the executive order, the idea was let them know that we don't want the people -- a chance to beat - the iigration or something, the tendency they have for violence, we don't know. we don't want to be in that decision. we find out, seven people at the factory, in the end, we get seven, we start receiving calls from the people, the company is calling back, st show up at 6:00 because they'reoing to
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give us th news, better to show up at 10:00 for the bad news. weame and thesaid -- one of the lines they took. >> that is a very dramatic story and it happened in a very dramatic time too. there was so much else going on at the time. barack obama had just been elected president, but had not yet been inaugurated. it was in that interim period in december, he was in chicago and scheduled to hold his first press conference since being elected. it was in icago, the press conference, b it had nothing to do with chicago or labor or the public windows and doors, it is actlly to talk about ghanistan. the foreign policy team was
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assembled in transition. because the press conference was in chicago and these dramatic actions were going on at repuic windows and doors, one of the questions put to him at that pre conference was about republic windows and doors, then president-elect obama responded as follows to that question -- i think they'rabsolutely right. what is ppening to them is reflective of what is happening across this economy he said that conlan and at that moment it became a national, international story because the global media recovering obama's every move after hisistori victory. i should say at quote actually adorns the cover of kari lyersen's book, whic is interestin it helps sell books if you he the president blurbing it, looks like a blurb
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for the book. there is no question that obama's statement at that press conference played a major role in bringing what was happening at the factory to national, and in the global attention. and that the same time, many peop have talked about the changed atmosphere in the country that you had the, the president of the united states after eight years of bush, the labor secretary was the only bush cabinet member to serve all eight years but after eht years of horrible labor policy you an incoming administration that was endorsing an occupation of the factory. at the same time, there has been
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some debate about whetherhe labor militancy and the atmosphere, the spirit of embolding the labor movement, that stement from obama seems to reflect, might in some ways cut the other way there a piece in the new issue about the legacy of the sit in, in which he hopes nelson liechtenstein lking about the obama effect, president obama inspired hope and political engagement but argues that tends to be a demobilation of the last when a democratic president gets elected. that obama do it attitude. i wonder what you think about the aiguous role of barack obama, the dramatic story you tell in the book? >> as far as barack obama making
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that statement, the workers had to have etings with management and bank officials on friday. one of the other union leaders said that on monday when they went back to the meeting after obama made that statement they felt they were being viewed in a whole new light by peopde who seemed to look down on them before and all of a sudden you just had the president to be speak on your behalf. i think they would have gained that respect regardless on their own even if obama hadn't made that statement, through the ongoing community mobilization and eir own actions over the next few days. as far as the outcomes, the influence, the fact the we have obama in office right now, on the macro level, there may be this effect of unions, let's let
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obama take care of it, but i feel that is ielevant to the actual ground level, people like armando robles in the workplaces, i can't imagine they were thinking that they were waiting for the larger union movement to do something one way or theother, they were thinking of their struggland what they could do. a lot of the struggles going on right now in some ways have been influenced by republic windows, smaller work ples, forget about the auto industry and bigger sectors for a moment, people at the 200 person work places, whether it is obama war bush,or bu, speaking about their situation. afar as what difference it made, it hasn't revolutionized the later seen in the country, i don't think anyone though it
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would do that necessarily, but there havbeen a number of examples of situations that have been directly influenced by it. it is one of those things you can look at as glass half-empty or half full, pragmatically and symbolically. there are times to wait and see what will happen. >> let's talk about the book itself as a book. this is an unusual product in the sense that you started riding and online while t events breathtaking place. it was a live book that was ing published they to day in blog form on the web site of the publisher. where d this idea of the live book come from and how did you do this? >> it was their idea and i want to say thanks to them for
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inviting me to do this project. they realized on the day or within several days of the beginning of the occupation, what a big story it woulde even before the victory, they had the idea to do this roject and get a book out quickly and do it in a, quote, live book. it was their idea, they were visionary in realizing how big an ongoing story it would be. i was doing a blog almost daily as i was reporting. theegional idea was to try to write thehapters in chronological order online and have people, and on them and revise clement on them d revise them, but that didn't
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happen because interviews don't happen in chronological orde a lot isn't i t book. but hopefully informed the analysis of the story. >> give me a second so i can read the note here. good, yes, okay. we are going to he, so the audience knows, get your questions ready because we are going to have a discussion, we e going to open this dialogue up to the entire audience very soon. before we do that, j.c. is going to me an announcement. we are going to take a quick break. i ha no idea what time it is 25 more minutes? don't kw how we are going to fill that up.
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you -- this could go -- this could go either to you or armando robles -- one of the things in this article and i agree, glass half-empty or half full, he ponders this question of why the republic has failed to inspirether worker actions his, and there have been some reverberations, there is the heart max men's clothing factories in new york which in a decided totage a sit-in, and connected to credit, wes fargo specifically, you have the die cast company where things are very much in play, this has come down to a question of credit line being extended or not
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extended to a struggling company. these are situationshere you have the companies and workers on one hand against the banks. there is something of a shifting paradigm in termsf the forces at work. then there is this thing going on in southern california as well, with warehouseorkers united. one of the things we talk about is how in many ways there has been a striking, to some extent, how the republic windows and doors stggle has been -- has failed to inspire given the econic downturn, given that the conditions have ly gotten worse. why have we not seen more copycat incidents andxamples of this kind of labor action?
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>> logistically, people were comparing it to the auto industry in the 1930s. it is a lot differe because the company wanted production, needed production to continue so the workers had the power of withhoing their labor. it wasn't really a strike at all in that sense. it was an occupation and all the leverage they had was physically clement in the building and more importany public opinn. that is much harder to replicate when factoriesre closing everywhere. the workers are in a vulnerable situation, it doesn't do much if the company wants them to stop working and disappear anyway. a similar situation, the dicastsing struggle, i don't know the strategy but
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theoretically the company is ill open but is slated to close. in a situation like th, you can plan -- the workers decided, they threaned they would occupy the place if it closed, but it is hard to occupy a factory before it closeds because work stops, which the company was planning on doing in the first place. >> those workers are represented. >> it is a hard spot all-around for american workers. >> and armando robles, let's lk about what has happened since the victory, such as it was,ecember and january. you and several other of the workers have been going aroun the country talki about your story and talking to other workers, labor activists, different community groups. tell us a little bit about that
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experice and what kinds of conversations you had, what kinds of -- you have been swapping notes with people. what have you learned about the story as a result of those conversations? >> around december 19th, we got our check from the ba, wha they owe . we plan to go into the east coast and west coast and talk with workers, working people, in particular, 20 minute movie, including this on our web ge, we showed the video clip to the
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peop, we run -- i explained the struggle we had since we started until we got to the bank of america, then we have questions and answers. incurious thing happened in rhode island, in providence. a group of workers at this church, around 70, 80 workers, around 20 days after the company they throw out of the street, they show up for the company, a paper saying our business, it was really united, they were waiting forome kind of strategy, some kindf conversation because there were not a lot of people. they decided to run a meeting,
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before the presentation. we start talking with these people, they work with 70, 80 workers. the work center -- i don't know the name. this monday, you guys are planning, how you are going to do it. you have to involve the police, the government, you have to
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involve the, the community, more unions. ey start doing that, and two months, as they take the parking lot. th can't sit inside, the company was closed, the company started doing the action of the equipment, they took the parking lot. unfortunately they would be arrested and in the end i don't know what happened in the end but they do that. before these happen, before our occupation in january, taking teimony with the lawyer who lped us fix this stuff, she was asking me to stop, thewner of the republic. we received a call from the lawyers saying the students, the
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classroom, they demanded to throw out the principle of the school because they don't like -- he stopped doing -- she started calling the lawyers from new york, let her know she has a problem and she would like to help her. then we hear so many stuff, they took the other place, in ireland, they take the glass company and recently in france they took the company, the auto parts factory. they don't give severance pay, but the company -- the factory, if they give those in the daytime, they are planninto blow up the company. they're planning to. we went to san francisco, one of
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the things -- i met some teacher, the labor college -- i don't know remember where it is exactly, n.y. or dc, but on the east side, west side ast, i met the teacher, he inted me to san francisco. i was in s francisco one time, i don't see the teacher. the document, the republic -- at the end i come back to chicago and they invite me to san francisco -- how hmakes his plans, i talked to the teachers, and a tremendous deficit in california, they are planning to cut the budget. they are really concerned.
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what they really want is to learn from me what weid, they tried t split all over with the teachers, 3,000 teachers in california to try -- they will be really glad all theime. afte that, it was like a lawyer's conference, a thousand lawyers in california, honoring me for what we did in our strugg. it was real nice, it was my pleasre tbring everyone, let them know what is happening. they asked me -- we started running the plan. the lot of people asked me that. i was afraid to lose what -- our
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benefits. in the end, i went to corporate union, talk to two guys, one company of news, they run out this company. time that those guys in this place, we spent the whole day talking about what happened over here and what they do in argentina. he makese feel like, in reality, a roundompany, we woulbe in the honors right now, it was -- nobody informed us, giving us -- let us know that you could do that, i don't
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know. we sought -- it was not -- they made -- inside the company, it wasn't a locker room. they had iprojected. it was 20 people. >> if people are not familiar with it, the documentary about -- the classic documentary of factory takeovers. the takeover in argentina, the liberal structural adjustments inhat country at the beginning of the decade, i recommend it. condoleezza rice -- kari lyndersen talks about it in the
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book. actual, freed went to new york to talk about this with naomi klein, the internation -- how factory takeovers around the world have been won by vital strategy. >> as far as, like armando robles is saying, the workers's dream wuld be to run the factories themselves, they know how to, physically they could have donet. my understandi, i am not a business sectors, run a small businessike that, unls you're independently wealthy, you need financing from a bank 7 comes to the bank. it even if they re capable of running this company profitably, chances are they were not going to get financing especially after they expected $2 million. it was just a much harder to do that in the u.s. than it would be in argentina.
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they did try, they got an offer from serious materials, the right thing tdo. who knows what you will try in the future? >> we e ready to and things over before we hand things over to the audience. make the announcement. >> we are going to take a five minute break. >> five minute, no re, then back to ask your questions of kari lyndersen and armando robles. so now for part ii of our discussion with kari lyndersen and mando robles about kari lyndersen's really new book "revolt on goose island: the chicago factory takeover, and whatt says about the ecomic crisis". i am going to say one thing before we open up the floor to discussion. some of you have perhapseen this documentary, jonathan rosenbaum has seen it and probably written about it.
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the docentary about the french sociologist called sociology is a martial art. is an inresting film. at the end of the film, there is memorable scene where bordeaux does to an arab neighborhood, an algerian neighborhood in paris and engages in this very high voltage, intellectual, political exchange with a youth and activists and young graduates students in this community, in the algerian community in paris. at one point there is this contentious exchange and bordeaux sayto a particular person who has asked him this very -- basically this young activist says to him, hat is
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all this sociological nonsense? you are not tking about our experience. you think at that moment that bordeaux might change his toned. instead he actually recommend this book to the crowd, he recommends a book written by algerian intellectual living in france which is a study of the history of the algerian community of paris, he says you have got to read this book and read it carefully and discuss it and debate it because you will learn a lot about yourself by reading this book. is a fascinating moment in the film because there is this arronce, this french intellectualelling these dispossessed, marginal inhabitants of paris when they ould be reading, how they should be learning about themselves. the reason i mention this story is that ireading this book, my
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comrade and i were talking about this on the way here tonigh some of us were involved in this story, sort of living and breathing it 24/7 in december and january when it was unfolding it. people at and herface justice, we involved and on top of the story but when we read your book, everythins we learn about ourselves, our experience, things that adam would be hard pressed to find someo involved with. we can learn a lot about ourselves by reading kari lyndersen's book. it is an important contribution to what igoing to be -- there are goin to be people studying what happened, there already
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are. armando robles talked about his tour around the country tng to different activists trying to learn from what happened in those critical weeks in december. kari lyndersen's book ishe definitive study of that episode. it will be a valuable source for people who want to look back on it and figure out what happened and what might happen in the ture. at is the procedure for askg estions? do we want to have people just stand up? is there a microphone we are passing around? who has a question they would like task kari lyndersen? very good. >> last week i was at logan square wre some people were speaking about tips and the allegation was made that it money, property tax money diverted fm school districts and other local taxing bodies
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was used to help build a factory at republic windows and doors and once they got the hardware at the facility in chicago, they moved it a nonunion location in iowa. is there any truth to th ft that taxpayer money was used to prop up this operation from the beginning and once they got our read they needed they took it away to a nonunion location? >> sort of. kind of. basically, the short version of what happened, when republic build a new factory on deuce island, it used to be in a former location, it got $10 million of tip money, people who follow the tips know that there is a controversial subsidy thing so after this scandal and
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ordinance was passed to prevent their from happeng, even before the factoryclosed, ere was a city ordinance passed that tries to ensure that when a company gets taxpayer money they have to do what th said they would do and t iessing was part of the story tt we didn't get into but the short version is the owner was trying that whole scene that armando robles describes, the owner was moving the equipment that his wif had bought, it was a vindow factory. the workers were acally paid cently. it was a nonunion ctory. two months after buying it, richard gilman a his wife closed at factory down, sending 100 people out of work ahead decent job before he bought
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their cty and pull these shenanigans. >> did you want to add something to that? >> the mar, the government, the one in charge of this town, she was working there. i don't know if you remember when joe biden came to talk about the stimulus package, driving my shoulder like that, on the upside, don't kid me, you know what? i give money to these people and look at what he did! ten years ago, if was ret was r
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basic. >> how did it come to be that this very militant action drew the support o some vy establishment political figures? there we also some tricky things as you discussed in the book, and those of us who were on the ground athe time were not thrilled at this was the nal public appearance of governor robert voyage -blag blagoivich we were trying to get national media attention for this story, there was aust of wind in our sales because of obama's ess conference and statements supporting the workers and just as all the cnn trucks, national newspapers were showing up just as quickly, people were called off to
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springfield to cover the blagojo blagojovi blagojovich. >> everyone wasisiting the factory before that. every politician wanted to be part of the struggle and claim a role for themselves in the struggle which i think speaks to the nation wide mood which was pro labor and pro struggle before the economic crisis and the history of chicago. chago, the politicians, everyone here is a proud of the labor history and view themselves as heroes of the working class, whether they are or t, that is the image politicians want to erace, a perfect opportunity for that. the politicians played an important role in it.
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>> one other thing. the politicians, because the president-elect in that mont mentioned our struggle, the governor, when he came to the company, they have cutting the business with bank of amica, heid it. when this happened -- so when we bring bank of america, the bank of america, the state representative to release with what he did with the state and let the state have business with bank of america, the only people
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who -- the governor, that meant the bank of americ lt a lot of money. after the president-elect made his statement, the first concern is the workers. president-elect statement, before -- they say who you are but after that, it looks like they tried to -- the main concern is workers. >> other questions? yes? >> obviously one of the big questions for a lot of people, you discussed this issue, will this have a ripple effect in the labor movement, why hasn't it had more effect than it has? >> i wantedo offer the idea,
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everybody wants to compare this to the situation i the 30s. we are talking about a different labor movement than we had then. this came out of an upsurge building through a long period of time and organized labor to move in a different direction. we are nowhere near that. you really have to look at what the public has endorsed which compared to the situation with the uaw, it really showed the other face of the labor movent at the same time t republicans were showing a new direction. i pointed out the fact that it was hilaous to see these labor bureaucrats comifg down to the factory, praising the workers, an outsider in the labor movement. i ill think this is very positive, i don't think it will
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be an overnight situation. to expect tha we will have that kind of a sea change that quickly that needs to happen to me, would seem to be a riculous idea but that doesn't at all -- something has happened -- the fact that a much more conserva union, because of internal politics, decided to embrace what was endorsed and we will put a republican in our case, that is azing. that shows a shift in thinking. i am curious to get your response. >> that is one of the things i thought was inresting and encouraging about the support, at all of the major union leaders were out there with big groups of eir membership,
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unions that in the past, kicked out six years ago as part of an anti-communist purge and it has always been more left-wing, militant and creative than a lot of the mainstream unions. i think that was a sign that all the unions knowhat sometng different is neede they all have gloryays that were more militant and i am sure people want to hearken back, this was a way also of vicariously reliving their own history. >> interesting. e symbolism, it was almost, as gerry is suggesting, almost like yo couldn't not support it. it caught fire precisely because
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of that moment, that matrix of issues and events, it lit a fire behind a lot of people in the labour movement and elsewhere who had not exactly been fans before that. it was the event you could not not suppor there was a question in the middle. >> this is for armando robles and kari lyndersen, talk about the neighborhood effects of some of what happened in the takeover. i am curious where the workers lived and where was their bases of support? the village was important, b i amondering how this issue played outn the neighborhood and what long-termffect it might have. >> in my case, i go out -- when
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this happens, my kids were in school. when i pick up my kids from school, all the teachersold me i am sorry, what has happened to you, we don't knowhat is going to happen to our faculty, then they start telli me w see you on tv, i am in the church on sunday, then the father of -- the father called my name and said you come over, and he said please give tremendous applause to armando robles, this made me -- how we know that? a lot of things happen. my kids came to me and said my
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teachers says hello, you are famous. one day i came to the school and the teacher, my little kid told me you are famous and the little kids and how do you feel being famous? a lot of things happened. >> wait until they see this on c-span! >> just wondering, if you were facing a million workers representing many different mpanies who were in the same situation as deuce island, what ree key things would you tell them? >> as a journalist-like an impostor answering that.
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one of the key things was the widespread comnity -- support, making it feel like the whole city's strgle or the whole world's struggle that is really key. and the willingness to take a risk, which they didn't endp being arrested but they thought they could which could have had serious rafications for a lot of people but the risk paid off. that is two. i don't know. >> the threeeys -- first, the people have to know the coorkers and inform each one. i was spending by lunchtime talking in the lunchroom. this happened with the company. we had to be prepared for the
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worst. each time when something is going to happen, it doesn't happen rightaway. this was not spontaneous, it happened little by land clues to the company, we started seeing the company, they told me turn off e lights. at the end of this, people usually work two hours overtime. they shut off the doors, they told us to reconfigure the machine. the worst thing to the company, it comes to the company,he
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engineers from republic, they brought these machines to iowa, something happens -- i need that the raja to send it to my son, so the government, take the label and icy -- i searched the address, the engineer's house, we keep that one. so you have to have your eyes open, anything could happen. you re working their, you spend more time in your work area than your house.
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when you start seeing--usually the company gives us owel ch month, they start to install -- exclusive -- we have to have open eyes, inform autoworkers' what happened. if i don't talk to one because he hates me, i will talk to his best friend and he is going to let hi know what i said. we have to inform the people what has happened no matter what. has to receivthe information. >> other questions? that musbe at least one more question. >> i have been listening to the
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commentary for t minutes. it sounds like something dramatic has to happen in order to get people involved, ge them motivated. my question to you is, is there a way to get people to be cncerned about what is happening around them without some dramati catalyst? there are things happening every day. they just opened a compound and very few people care. palestinians are being exterminated, nobody cares. the window company closes, you have been telling people all along it is a problem in the factory. how do you get people to respond to this happening around them?
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>> when we come to the supervisor showing up at the regular me, we came to the company, they told us bank of america, we were having a speaker, we sold out, they told us you have the wrong message, bank of america, the credit lines, when we know that bank of america doesn't get the credit lines to republic, we have to ask our instructors, for the honor of the republic, the other genius, we start seeing this is
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what is going out, we d't want to have anything. don't let anybody take this from the company. this is our last chan. the best way to do it -- identify with that, everybody's courage, it is happening in california and anywhere. if we say yes, nothing happens. if we say with the banks -- this
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is reality. they worked aworkers. this happened to anyone. they identify with the issue. >> do you want to add to that? >> that sum it up. people identify with this struggle, why don't people identify with palestinians or the world, being killed, that is another question. there were so many people who suddenly felt that could be them. they do think it could be then. >> that raises the question of is the economy beginning to
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recover? people's pocketbooks were not as precarious, people lose economic situations are not as precarious as they have been since september or november. would that tend -- what would that portend for these issues? or identify with people in dire straits, are people going to care less and not see themselves -- is a trickyforma. >> other questions for condoleezza rice or armando robles? i would like not to cut off the decision the -- discussion, but let people know whatome of the crits have done to say about kari lyndersen's book? mike davis, the eminent
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historian, planet of slums and many other books had the following to say about it, there is much talk about audity ese days. the workers take over the factory and take on the bank. kari lyndersen's invaluable account of the republic sitdown strike is an instruction manual for worker dignity. you could do worse. other questions? >> i was curious about the format. how did people respond to the idea of the live book? >> a question about the fmat of the book, that it was originally chronicled on line as
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a live look. >> there were not as much response as i would have liked but there was some response. it was an enriching experience because people did tick me off. this was the first factory occupation in seven years which wasn't te. an people to to me off to other occupations that i had known about and other things worth investigating. is a medium that i hope other publishers explore more in the future. >> just to follow up on that, we touched on this earlier, but this is not -- this book we have here tonight is not simply a compilation of your live book chronicle that was published on line. itoes overlap in significant ways, in case people think i am not going to buy the book, just read the web site, why would anyone want to read all these
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pages on line? this is reled to but distinct from the live book project. >> yes. >> how much did history -- i remember when you were beginning to report the book, you wanted to talk to people who had been involved in labor struggles in the past and sent you to see jayhawk gained, because they were working on a book about the strike of the 1990s. and nelson liechtenstein, whose name in a came up tonight, talking about the historical fr of worker occupation and militant factory takeove. to what extent did those historical chapters inform your
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approach to this book? >> seeing how different things are. not the them was ever a cookie cutter approach in labor but using tactics that work in the past would not work the sam way now. there are things that were developed using inspirationrom the past to address the current climate. >> to what extent did the workers in the factory take lessons fr other experaences, we talked about the role of the film, the documentary? to what extent, what were those discussions like? you weren't just making it up, you were making major existential decisions that you were not just making it up out of thin air, there were ideas, strategies, models. >> for years, we organized.
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for five years, in the past we have the union, that union comes of every other year. the union representative, two years after being a union mber, one of the union representatives came to me, he told me what is your name? i told him armando robles. he said u are in the union? i take my dues from their. here isour membership card. we ran a huge campaign to bring them into the company, it was a huge companion against the
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company, giving us cookouts, basketball playground in front of the company, they put up x box games, they were running every week in meetings including the owner of the company, the picture of the first presidt, both of these movements. the ones we pay you or these are for men. it was just his adlights, you're going to use one of my pictures. in the end, on


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